SAN FRANCISCO—Airbnb issued a public apology on Thursday, October 22, after launching a billboard campaign that made suggestions as to how the city of San Francisco should spend the estimated $12 million the company could pay if Proposition F passes.
According to the Proposition guidelines, if passed, the measure would impose restrictions on private, short-term housing rentals to 75 nights per year and impose provisions designed to ensure private rentals are paying hotel taxes and following city code. According to Ballotpedia, if any person violates Proposition F, fines could range from $250-$1,000 per day for each post.
As of October, “No On Proposition F” has received over $8.5 million in contributions, with nearly 97 percent of contributions from Airbnb. The campaign in favor of Proposition F has collected over $350,000.
In an effort to make a statement, Airbnb launched what many are calling a passive-aggressive advertising campaign. One of the ads read, “Dear Parking Enforcement, Please use the $12 million in hotel taxes to feed all the expired parking meters. Love, Airbnb” while another stated, “Dear Recreation & Parks, We hope some of the $12 in hotel taxes keeps this park clean. Love Airbnb.”
Airbnb has been apologizing to the public, as well as their employees since the campaign launched on October 21. The company will be taking down all advertising pieces from the campaign. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wrote to his employees: “Yesterday I heard from so many of you about how embarrassed and deeply disappointed you were in us. You were right to feel this way.”
Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Mildenhall, tweeted on Thursday, “We mess up badly yesterday. I’m kicking myself today.”
Airbnb tweeted, “We apologize for Wednesday’s SF ads. They displayed poor judgment and do not live up to the values and humanity of our global community.”